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US Open: Kaymer needs challenge from field, or it could get boring

Scott Fowler is a national award-winning sports columnist for The Charlotte Observer.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/06/13/23/07/m0ll2.Em.138.jpeg|316
    Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
    The U.S. Open can be a lot of things, but it is far less interesting if it’s a rout. And Martin Kaymer is threatening to turn it into a rout with back-to-back 65s, which have given him a six-stroke lead halfway through the tournament.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/06/13/22/04/o4den.Em.138.jpeg|210
    Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
    Brendon De Jonge (center), Shane Lowry and Kevin Stadler (right) share a laugh at the sixtth tee box Friday morning.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/06/13/22/04/m0l72.Em.138.jpeg|240
    Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
    Keegan Bradley watches the flight of his tee shot on the sixth hole Friday at Pinehurst No. 2. After two rounds, Bradley is tied for fifth with a 2-under 138.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/06/13/23/07/o4dty.Em.138.jpeg|215
    Jeff Siner -
    Martin Kaymer smiles as he responds to a question Friday. Kaymer is leading the U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst No. 2.

PINEHURST What we need right now at the U.S. Open is a chase, not a coronation.

I have nothing against Martin Kaymer. But I hope he triple-bogeys the first two holes Saturday.

The U.S. Open can be a lot of things, but it is far less interesting if it’s a rout. And Kaymer is threatening to turn it into a rout with back-to-back 65s, which have given him a six-stroke lead halfway through the tournament.

As Johnny Miller pointed out on NBC, Kaymer has already taken some of the air out of this Open because he has been so dominant.

“The rest of the guys are having a heck of a championship,” Miller said. And they are. If you took Kaymer out of the mix, there would be nearly 20 players within four strokes of the leader.

Kaymer, though, is not only in the mix, he is 10 under par. Overwrought comparisons to Tiger Woods’ 15-stroke Open victory in 2000 have already been getting thrown around.

No, it’s not that. It’s not going to be that.

It is threatening, however, to be a boring weekend.

Kaymer’s greatness through 36 holes reminds me of one of the worst predictions I ever made.

When you write a couple of hundred columns a year, there are always a few you wish you could take back. One of mine came in 2005.

In 2005, Sergio Garcia started off playing what was then called the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte exactly the same way that Kaymer has played so far in Pinehurst in 2014.

Garcia led at the end of each of the first three rounds in ’05. He had a six-stroke lead going into the final day. He was playing so well it seemed unfathomable that he would lose – at least to me.

So I started my Sunday morning column with the words: “The Wachovia Championship officially ends today, but it really ended Saturday afternoon. Sergio Garcia has already won this golf tournament.”

You can guess what happened next.

Garcia collapsed. Vijay Singh won.

In that very same year, Retief Goosen entered the final round of the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 with a three-stroke lead. He shot 81. His playing partner in Sunday’s final twosome was Jason Gore, who turned out to have an appropriate last name on that day. Gore shot 84.

Goosen and Gore were so far out of the tournament by the end that they were reduced to making a $5 bet on the last three holes to keep themselves paying attention.

This is not to wish ill on Kaymer. I wouldn’t mind him winning at Pinehurst No. 2 at all. He doesn’t have to shoot his own 84 this weekend. And he won’t – he’s already won a major and is playing way too well for that.

But I would like him to be tested. Hopefully the pin placements and some forgiving greens will make that possible on Saturday and Sunday.

When asked what was the best scenario anyone had to catch Kaymer, Adam Scott (who is 10 strokes down) said: “Maybe it getting even softer is the best chance. Because if guys start making birdies, maybe he’ll feel a little more pressure to make some.”

So Brendon Todd, Jordan Spieth, Kevin Na, Rory McIlroy or someone else among the other 12 players under par has to shoot their own 65 Saturday and put a little heat on Kaymer.

Because right now, as Brooks Koepka (eight strokes back) said: “Martin seems to be playing a different golf course.”

I won’t make the Sergio mistake in this column. This tournament is not over yet.

But if someone doesn’t challenge Kaymer soon, the Open door is about to swing closed.

Fowler: sfowler@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @scott_fowler
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